Saturday, February 15, 2014

Tatum's Heroics on a "Normal" Snow Day

I am not going to lie; It’s been a long couple of days. I am not sure what is worse, the days leading up to a big snowstorm or the days after. I am fairly sure, in most cases, that the dread leading up to the storm is worse. However, I have to say that the aftermath of this storm may have been the toughest part. All the preparations in the world cannot make you ready for 13 inches of snow, 30 mile per hour wind and sub-zero temperatures. Especially with new calves and lambs expected.
At least it was a snow day for my wife and kids. I chuckled as I watched the news and they were talking about letting the kids sleep in and have a lazy day inside. That may be true for the majority of the kids out there, but it is certainly not true for farm kids. Those of you not on the farm may think it sounds cruel to make the kids help with chores on a snow day. However, I greatly appreciated three extra sets of hands.
School was cancelled Monday night but the snow had just started Tuesday morning. It was definitely the calm before the storm. We made quick work of making sure all the sheep and cattle were bedded down, all of the hay feeders were full and water tanks were topped off. Then as the snow picked up, someone went out every two hours to check the ewes. It seemed like it took longer to get dressed for the trip out to the barn than it took to slog out to the barn and back.
Tuesday evening came with more heavy snow and an increasing wind. The predicted drifting had started with a vengeance. Chores that night were also a team effort. Tatum and I went out to check the cows (we started calving about 3 days before the storm, another indication of my great sense of timing). The herd was nestled down in a draw, away from the wind. Well, all of them except our newest calf who was stranded at the top of the draw, prevented from joining the herd by an ever growing drift of snow.
Earlier Tatum was telling me that her friends and her were texting, messaging , Insta-graming, tweeting, Snap Chatting, or whatever form of “communications”  teenagers use these days. She was a little jealous that they had slept in until late morning, watched movies, played on the computer, texted each other and definitely had not been outside. This Tatum told me bundled up in coveralls, winter coat, insulated boots, scarf, insulated gloves and a stocking cap. No easy, lazy snow day for my teenager.
We needed to get the calf down the steep slope through a tangle of vines and through what appeared to be a two foot drift of snow. In reality the drift was probably closer to three to four feet when you factored in the slope. Soon we devised a plan. Tatum would herd the calf to me, I would get as far into the snow drift as I could and still reach it. Then I would make my way down the steep, slick, snow covered slope to the cows with Tatum pushing the brush out of my way.
The calf reluctantly agreed to the plan, well, agreed to it after Tatum pushed, pulled and finally carried it to me. I fell, staggered and tumbled through the drift with the calf. Then Tatum and I plowed our way through the maze of branches, a surprising number of which had thorns on them. Finally at the bottom of the draw we were met by the anxious mother eagerly awaiting her baby. Soon they were reunited and the calf quickly found the dinner table. Mission accomplished right? Not quite, we still had to make our way back up the steep icy slope, past the thorny vines and through the mountain of snow at the top. We crawled to the top, looking a little like mountain climbers conquering Mount Everest and, to be honest, feeling the same sense of accomplishment.
Once we were inside the pick-up and had started to thaw, Tatum looked at me through her snow covered stocking cap and wondered out loud what it would be like to have a “normal” snow day. In the end we both knew that the snow day she had was much more rewarding than the “normal” snow day her friends had. She did not have cabin fever, had gotten a lot of fresh air and exercise and along the way saved a baby calf. However, I did think I heard her sigh when I told her school was cancelled for the next day. Only a farm kid would think going to school was less work.

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